December 21, 2011
This is a tale of two Christmases that come in the darkest color imaginable. One is the 1974 feature Black Christmas and the other is its 2006 remake (also known as Black Xmas on the promotional materials and DVD cover). This was the fist time I have seen the original, something I have been putting off for far too long. The remake, however, is one's subjected myself to back in theaters but have not seen since.
I chose to watch them in reverse order. Why? I don't know. Something told me they would be better that way. Although, I guess it doesn't really matter.
The new Black Christmas is an over the top affair with more than is fair of scooped out eyeballs. The movie does not waste any time getting going with a girl getting a plastic bag over her head and a pen stabbed through it. Fun, no? The story then picks up with a sorority house filled with pretty girls played by the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, and Michelle Trachtenberg. They are snowed in and opening Christmas gifts as is their tradition. This includes a gift for Billy Lenz, whose family used to live here, before he went crazy, killed them and was locked away.
This movie is a none too serious look at what happens when jaundiced Billy escapes from the asylum and comes home with his sister/daughter to reclaim their house. It is a pretty crazy affair that I enjoyed despite its lack of logic, goofiness, and disjointed structure as we get flashbacks to younger Billy throughout. There are stories of disagreements between director Glenn Morgan and the studio which led to Morgan's attempt to have his name taken off the film. I wonder how much of this was actually his?
I would not recommend this to fans of the original or anyone who wants a quality horror-holiday. This is just for those who like to watch silliness.
So, what about the original? I fear I did not pay as much attention to it as I should have. I will say it is clearly a better movie and is one of the earliest examples of the slasher film. It is also a lot more subtle than the remake. It, too, is about a sorority house that used to be the home of crazy Billy and Billy does indeed come home and make a mess of things, but it is decidedly classier. The killer is kept most in the shadows, gore is understated, and it is just a better made movie. At some point I am going to revisit it and give it the due that it deserves. Until then, I will recommend this one.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 12/21/2011 10:20:00 PM
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.